More than a nuisance, noise is a source of suffering at work

More than a nuisance, noise is a source of suffering at work

Chatting between colleagues, tapping fingers on the computer keyboard, sound notifications… It’s difficult to keep track of all the sources of noise in companies. While this noise pollution can be annoying, it sometimes has serious repercussions on the physical and mental health of workers.

More than half of workers in France (52%) say they are bothered by ambient noise in their workplace, according to the new Ifop-JNA barometer. Unsurprisingly, this feeling is predominant among construction professionals. They give a rating of 5.5 out of 10 to the noise level to which they are exposed in the course of their job. This is much higher than the national average (4.9/10). This high exposure to noise pollution raises serious fears among building and construction specialists. As proof, 16% of those questioned fear developing deafness or hearing problems because of the noise inherent in their profession.

But French people working in the construction sector are not the only ones to worry about the impact of noise. Nearly half of working people (45%) say that noise pollution has at least one impact on their ears on a daily basis. Those under 35 are particularly likely to complain about it (52%) In addition to hearing loss, noise has consequences on mental and physical health. Thus, 60% of workers say that noise pollution at work causes them to feel tired, tired and irritable. It can also become a source of psychological suffering (31% of respondents) and even cause high blood pressure (23%).

A public health issue

These results show to what extent working in a noisy space is not a trivial matter. On a professional level, this can cause tension. A third of workers confide that discussions between colleagues are a source of noise that particularly exasperates them. Added to this are the constant comings and goings in the open space of “loud laborers” (and other professionals who are on the move) and the telephone and/or videoconference conversations. In addition to being a source of annoyance, noise pollution in the workplace seriously harms the quality of exchanges between employees. Some 49% of working people in France believe that noise can cause misunderstanding with their manager, while 44% think that it can create conflicts.

But then how can we combat the harmful effects of noise pollution? A growing number of employees are choosing to equip themselves with noise-canceling headphones or headsets to protect themselves. However, this solution does not always create the bubble of tranquility that they are looking for to carry out their missions and gain productivity. Teleworking is also an option to protect yourself from the hubbub inherent in office life. However, workers who work remotely are not immune to noise pollution. In fact, 60% of occasional teleworkers (i.e. two to three days a week) say they are bothered by noise in their daily life.

Taking noise exposure into account is therefore a real challenge for companies in France. If the first instinct of employers is to provide individual protection against noise, this is not enough to relieve their employees. Especially since 70% of them say they are ready to make efforts to limit the noise and noise pollution for which they are responsible in their workplace. There

The 2023 edition of the Ifop-JNA barometer was carried out among a sample of 1,103 people, representative of the employed French population aged 18 and over, on the occasion of the 8th Occupational Hearing Health Week. The interviews were conducted by self-administered online questionnaire from September 12 to 14, 2023.